16 July 2010
More electoral twists for 2011?
How much does State of Mexico Gov. Enrique Peña Nieto fear the formation of anti-PRI electoral alliance for the July 2011 gubernatorial race in his home state? Apparently enough to postpone the election date to July 2012, when the country chooses a new president - and he expects to romp to victory as the Institutional Revolutionary Party candidate.
Writing in the Mexico City newspaper La Razón, political columnist Adrián Trejo floated the idea of Peña Nieto promoting a constitutional amendment so that the State of Mexico would hold future gubernatorial elections at the same time as federal elections. The state already holds legislative and municipal elections at the same time as the presidential contest and other states such as Jalisco, Guanajuato, Michoacán, Morelos and the Federal District already hold gubernatorial elections the same day.
The scenario, according to Trejo, would unfold as follows:
The heavily PRI state legislature approves changing the election date to July 2012. Peña Nieto then resigns Sept. 15, one year ahead of his previously scheduled departure from office. A successor appointed by the legislature would serve out the remainder of the extended term.
Trejo says the idea is being studied, although it would bring a high political cost. He cited no specific sources for his July 16 column and insisted such a change to the gubernatorial election date would be legal.
The possible maneuvering reflects the enormous importance of the State of Mexico in national politics and how its next gubernatorial election is expected to have national implications.
Emboldened by the recent electoral successes of PAN-PRD alliances in Oaxaca, Puebla and Sinaloa, the PAN and PRD now are gunning for the State of Mexico as winning the country's most populous state would derail Peña Nieto's presidential aspirations.
The PRI recognizes the importance of retaining the State of Mexico, too. PRI president Beatriz Paredes brokered a deal last fall with PAN president César Nava to avoid any such coalitions in the State of Mexico in exchange for the PRI in the Chamber of Deputies supporting passage of the 2010 federal budget. (The PAN reneging on the deal prompted the resignation of the then-interior minister Fernando Gómez-Mont from the PAN and hastened his departure from cabinet.)
It remains to be seen what happens in the State of Mexico, but the maneuvering for the top political prize of 2011 is only just beginning.